A Shy Girl’s Guide to Surviving Parties

April 5, 2016

I’m not going to sugarcoat it: parties horrify me. Introverts are social people too, but only for a limited time. Since they find happiness in spending time alone or with a group of people they’ve known for years, continuous social events deplete their metaphorical batteries.

I am often asked by my mom and our helper, “How can you manage to stay at home for a long time?” This question baffles me. I commonly respond, “But how can you guys go out every single day?” Social gatherings are inevitable and here’s how you can survive parties without abhorring them.

Assume a role at the party
I like helping out whenever a friend throws a party. Having a sense of purpose not only distracts you, but also helps you get acclimated to the party. You can help set the table, distribute the tokens, or my go-to task – take photos of the event.

Be present in your own introverted style
If you’re more of an introvert, it’s likely that you’re great in listening and asking insightful questions. Instead of dreading the things you might say, just be attentive. Keep in mind that one of the great gifts you can offer someone is to hear them out.

Have a pre-party ritual
Take some time for yourself before heading out for a day of socializing. Prior to attending something, I feel anxious to the point of regretting why I agreed to go. This is where pre-party calming techniques come in. Read a book, watch an episode of your favorite series, take a long bath, or do whatever it is that soothes your already panicking thoughts. 

Consider bringing an extrovert wingman
If it’s an affair that allows you to bring guests, you may walk in with a wingman. Small talk can be a torture for introverts, but if you are accompanied by someone who can break the ice and who can fill up “dead air,” then there’s nothing to worry.

Be clad in something you’re comfortable in
Socializing is already tough for you. Don’t make it more complicated by wearing a short flimsy dress that you always have to pull down or a pair of unstable heels that can leave you crippled anytime. This reminds me that I better start looking for a party-ready cocktail dress for a night out with my girls! I rarely party at night, that’s why my friends know that when I ask them for a night out, it’s something serious. Haha. As introverts, it should be our goal to walk into a party feeling as charged and as confident as possible.

Give yourself time to recharge
If you have to leave the party early so that you may unwind, do so. Don’t feel guilty about it. It’s better to leave early than to fake your enjoyment when you’re already feeling overwhelmed by the festivity. You can also go to washroom quickly or head outside for some fresh air.

Parties can be daunting but take a deep breath and get out there from time to time. If you have more party tips for shy people, I would love to hear them. :) 

A Breakup Survival Kit for a Friend

March 26, 2016

Going through a breakup is difficult. This isn’t exactly news but it’s true. When a friend called me about her situation, I was close to crying too. It’s tougher when you believe that friend is undeserving of being treated in such manner.

While time will eventually heal wounds, surely it doesn’t hurt to support your friend on her path to personal recovery. Hearing out your friend is a nice thing, but throwing some care package into the mix is a thoughtful gesture. Here are the contents of my simple breakup survival kit:

A movie that falls under the rom-com or tearjerker category
I apologized to my friend for sending Atonement. Haha! It’s a stressful flick and I know I could’ve sent something funny like The House Bunny or She’s Out of My League. You can also include a series that will allow your friend to go on a marathon and stop thinking of He-Who-We-Shouldn’t-Talk-About.

A comfortable sweater
There are days when you don’t want to get out of the bed, and that’s okay. For that ultimate “bedcation,” why not have your friend wear something comfortable? Apart from oversized sweaters, you can try socks and jammies with quirky prints.

There is nothing chocolates cannot cure, I hope. I added some Gummy bears to let her know that life’s unBEARable (I know, it’s cheesy) without the cheerful A that we all know.

A journal
Heartbreak brings out the artist in us. How else can you explain the heap of hugots that we read or hear daily? Give your friend a pocket-sized journal for her to write down things she wanted to say to He-Who-We-Shouldn’t-Talk-About. Who knows? The material she came up with may be worthy of a merit normally reserved for Adele.

A cucumber product
The cucumber face mask is for days when she wants to hide all the puffiness (from crying).

Be as creative as you can when putting together a breakup survival kit for a friend. Don’t forget to include an uplifting letter. Think of the things that you wanted to hear when you were going through the same thing. Here are other things that you can include in a breakup survival kit for a friend:

February Favorites

March 5, 2016

Chanel Bonheur #61
I typically stick with pink shades when it comes to lipsticks but this one is gorgeous! While it has shimmers, the lipstick doesn’t look that shiny when applied. The minimal shine eventually wears off leaving the lips with a lasting berry stain. Since it is a part of Chanel’s Hydrating Sheer Lipshine collection, the lipstick’s finish is translucent.

Goody Ouchless Finishing Brush
This is probably my Holy Grail brush. I sometimes find it tiring to comb my lengthy locks right after showering but I’m thankful for the soft bristles of this brush. The bristles paired with the comfort gel handle (something my dog would surely sink his teeth into given the opportunity) will give you a “snag-free” styling experience.

Paper Designer
What is it with journals and paper items that we find endearing? I can’t stop buying even if the notebooks that I currently have would last me for years. This Paper Designer from Boho Box has 40 dainty papers inside. The store has other lovely stuff too like owl bracelets and boho purses – all below P200.

One Direction “Our Moment” perfume
This is the debut perfume of One Direction, the best band ever together with Coldplay. It’s a floral scent infused with slightly fruity notes. The longevity is also great – about 6 hours. The bottle is whimsical but apparently aimed at a younger demographic of fans.

Missha Honey Butter Pack
This butter pack is part of my Myeongdong haul last year. I’m now on my second tube and it works well if you’re skin is in need of a moisture boost. Like most face packs, you leave this on your face for 15 minutes and wash it off with lukewarm water.  The face pack has Korean acacia honey and French gourmet butter that claim to help in promoting a radiant complexion.

Kasalang Tagaytay 2016: Where Suppliers from the South Own the Spotlight

February 29, 2016

Given the soaring fame of Tagaytay when it comes to weddings, it’s a delight to see an affair like Kasalang Tagaytay that puts the spotlight on wedding suppliers from the South. The event was wonderful! Apart from the booths' charming decors, the suppliers were pleasant. We previously went to a bridal fair in Rockwell and this one was just as intimate. 

Kasalang Tagaytay 2016 took place at SMDC Wind Residences. Outside the function hall are chairs and tables where couples can discuss before they re-enter and secure deals with their chosen suppliers.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed during bridal fairs with dozens of vendors handing you things and reciting their sales pitch, that’s why it’s great to have location-centric events like Kasalang Tagaytay 2016. The deals are great as well (e.g. Booking this particular music band for your reception entitles you to FREE 70 pieces of wedding favors from the neighboring booth).

 The affair was made possible by event expert Anna Liza Sotto in partnership with Town’s Delight. If you want to tie the knot in Tagaytay but wasn’t able to attend the fair, you may download the PhilWeddings app.

Once I get the time to go through this bag, I’ll make a compilation. That’s a promise! 

All about That Lace: A Piece for Zalora Community

February 24, 2016

Searching for lace-accented pieces used to be a struggle as this material existed primarily for the elderly. Fortunately, this intricately detailed textile increased in popularity. So much so that pulling off a lace adorned ensemble became easier to achieve. Here are some quick and easy styling tips to keep in mind if your aim is to look chic and romantic in lace!”

This is an excerpt of the latest piece I did for Zalora as one of their community influencers. Lace, although lovely, can really betray you when worn inappropriately. The key is to opt for flattering cuts and keep everything minimal. You may read the whole piece here.

P.S. If you're curious how you can annoy your fellow travelers, you may also check
“Jet-setting in Elegance: What NOT to Wear When Travelling”

P.P.S. I don’t know why I’m an influencer too. I know, I'm more fit to represent One Direction.

Isla de Gigantes Guide for Thrill-seekers

February 19, 2016

There I was having the time of my life swimming and feeling like a pseudo mermaid when I saw Jade, our Isla de Gigantes guide, shaking off sand from my Birkenstocks. I told him not to do it as they would eventually become soiled again. “Baka madulas po kasi kayo,” he meekly responded.
The hospitality of the island’s people was like no other. Our guide, although younger than us, was attentive to all our needs. We stayed on the island for two days and despite the simplicity of life there, the people’s warmth resonated.

Upon arriving in Iloilo, we headed straight to Estancia Port where our chartered boat was waiting for us. You have the cheaper option to ride the commuter boat but it only leaves every 1 p.m. Traveling from the airport to the island itself took nearly six hours.

Barangay Asluman's first noticeable feature is its shore filled with scallop shells – a common sight in a place deemed as the country’s Scallops Capital. The whole time we stayed at Gigantes Hideaway Tourist Inn, we were served scallops dishes every meal. We jokingly asked if they were also serving scallops fruit shake.

Bakwitan Cave: Not for the Faint-hearted

Our first activity was cave spelunking. Bakwitan Cave is not your ordinary cave as it fulfilled many duties in the past. Our guide, Kuya Marnie, said that the cave used to be a burial site (you can even see few remains of the deceased at the entrance). During the Japanese Occupation times, locals used the cave as a hiding place from invaders. They still use Bakwitan today during calamities.
Let your imagination run wild as you will encounter various formations inside the cave. After walking around for half an hour, we were asked if we’d like to take the more difficult exit route. Finishing the route would take two hours. I was terrified because unlike canyoneering, there was no body of water inside to calm me. My reluctance vanished because my friends all agreed to take the exit and Kuya Marnie seemed trustworthy (haha).
The exit was perilous, that’s why please, follow your guide’s instructions. Your guide will tell you where to put your feet, which hand to use, etc. Don’t feel pressured to speed up your pace. Upon exiting the cave, the way down was tough too because of the sharp rocks. Nonetheless, the guides are proud that Bakwitan Cave remains accident-free.

Sunrise in the Iconic Lighthouse

Prior to our scheduled island hopping, we went to the island’s Spanish-colonial lighthouse. It was a lovely sight! The historical edifice still serves its purpose but it now functions through the help of a solar panel.

Superstar Islands

We allotted our second and last day to the trip’s highlight – island hopping. Our first stop was at Bantigue Island sandbar followed by Tangke lagoon. Despite the boat-congested entrance, the idyllic lagoon will put you in a relaxed state of mind. The rock formations surrounding the lagoon are breathtaking and we even spotted three Macaque monkeys!
We then visited the island’s most photographed spot – Cabugao Gamay.
It was already noontime when we reached Antonia beach. Most of our swimming took place here.

(Sea)Sick Dream

After our final Gigantes lunch, we bid our gracious hosts adieu not knowing that our trip back would be one for the books. I had to force myself to sleep because the surging waves made me feel queasy. It didn’t help that I kept on hearing my father’s (a sea navigation expert) voice lecturing about the perils of the ocean. Some of my friends were restless as the sea swelled and heaved.

While it seemed like the sea would devour our boat anytime, what reassured me was the composure of our boatmen. I prayed that the situation wasn’t that bad and that our boatmen were not merely feigning calmness.

We arrived at 7 p.m. and since we were two hours late for the last trip of commuter vans bound for Iloilo, we spent the night in Estancia. Sir Nick, a coordinator working with Sir Joel (I’ll introduce him later), helped us book a clean and affordable room at Sandrine Inn. You can ask tricycle drivers to bring you there from the port. We slept soundly following our eventful boat trip.

How to Reach Isla de Gigantes from Iloilo Airport

1. Ride a shuttle van (P50) and get off at SM Iloilo/Mandurriao. You can likewise ride a cab and go straight to Tagbak Terminal.

2. Ride a Leganes-bound jeepney (P10) and get off at Tagbak Terminal – tell the driver if you’ll ride a Ceres bus or a commuter van because they’re situated in different terminals.

3. Travel to Estancia Port via Ceres bus takes three hours. If you’ll opt for the commuter van, it’s likely for you to arrive thirty minutes earlier (they fly, you know). Fare ranges from P150-170.

4. From Estancia Port, you can either wait for the commuter boat (P80) that departs at 1 p.m. or rent a private boat. Sea travel takes two hours.

Who to Contact

Sir Joel Decano of Gigantes Hideaway Tourist Inn is the go-to person of most visitors. I wish I could have thanked him personally for his assistance but he rarely stays on the island because there’s no network signal. As the tourism officer of Carles, you’ll be in good hands. For 7 persons, we were quoted P2,315 each for an all-inclusive package (private boat from Estancia, lodging, activities, and 4 meals). You may reach him at +639184685006.


Wear sturdy footwear if you’ll do the Bakwitan exit (I nearly broke my kneecap because Birks and rocks were not meant to be friends. Yes, I’m the same girl who wore her Keds when she went canyoneering.)

Electricity on the island only circulates from 4 to 11 p.m. While there’s a generator, it’s reserved for lights and refrigerators. There’s no network signal too but they have a special spot named the “call center.”

Buy souvenirs from locals.

Don’t let strange-looking shells on your plate intimidate you. Dig in because you might not see them again in the city. I particularly loved the wasay-wasay which I later found out were fresh black lip oysters.

If you think your guide did a wonderful job, tip generously. Tourism greatly helps the island’s people. Our guide, for example, is a college student who tours guests every weekend to aid his studies. Imagine how much your tip could help students like him.

If you arrived later than 5 p.m. in Estancia, you can hire a private van bound for iloilo for P3,000-3,500. We opted to stay in Estancia because we wanted to rest already and we didn’t want to spend that much for a van. We only paid P1,300 for a room good for 7 people. Sandrine Inn also has fan rooms for P150/head. The decision didn’t affect our itinerary because the first trip to Iloilo was at 3 a.m.

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature.” – Rachel Carson

48 Hours in Baguio

February 11, 2016

Baguio is a place close to my heart after living there for five years. I might have been to numerous special places but Baguio remained different. My social media feeds might have photos of adventures from many cities but Baguio’s still my happy pill. When I’m sad, it’s the place I regularly yearn to be in.

I recently accompanied my former officemates to a quick Baguio trip. My aim was to bring them to as many places as I could without making them feel rushed. We arrived early morning and went to Strawberry Farm to buy vegetables because they’re way cheaper there. We then proceeded to the nearby Bell Church and Tam-Awan Village.

Come afternoon, we went to Burnham Park where I met this Samoyed, Leia. The owner was delighted when I started massaging Leia’s ears. Why do you have to be so squishy? I want to take you home!

Dinner was at Oh My Gulay Artist Café, one of Baguio’s most blogged-about places. Haha. The restaurant is on the fifth floor of the La Azotea Building (in front of Zola Café) along Session Road. A seemingly endless staircase will lead you to the penthouse floor where Oh My Gulay will unveil all its artistic glory.

Oh My Gulay serves as Victor Oteyza’s permanent gallery. He was one of the country’s Modern Art pioneers. The artist space regularly holds events and other artists’ exhibits.

Bargain hunters shouldn’t miss out the city’s daily Night Market. Every 9 p.m., Harrison Road transforms into a lively avenue for vendors. Here you can buy clothes for as low as P10! If you can withstand crowds normally reserved for rock stars, this place is for you. There’s a selection of street food stalls to allay your hunger.

Our next day was allotted for Mines View Park and my favorite Camp John Hay. I like how its rustic atmosphere is different from other places in the city where commercial developments are unrelenting. 

Baguio made me realize my love for walking, and when I was a student, I used to explore the camp’s winding route and just appreciate the place’s sheer beauty. There’s an abundance of coffee shops and restaurants inside. Apart from strawberries and peanut brittles, you can similarly bring home Manor Hotel’s infamous raisin bread.

Enjoying Baguio sans the rushed feeling is entirely possible. You may steer clear from itineraries because everything in the city may be reached within half an hour. It will be helpful as well if you’ll park your vehicle somewhere and just walk to alleviate traffic congestion. Travelling by steps will allow you to relish the city’s chilly temperature too – a genuine scarcity in Manila.

Let’s take into consideration the locals of Baguio. I’m sure they want visitors to experience what Baguio has to offer, but at the same time, it pains them to see how some tourists disrespect the place. Wherever we go, it will certainly be lovelier if we will treat the place like our own homes. :)